I am helping another developer on a WordPress site that's for a committee. Which means everything must be decided upon by a bunch of people and not, like, 2.

The site is using a WP theme purchased by the committee that requires at minimum PHP 5.6 and MySQL 5.6.

Demo site is being developed on a throw away hosting account that happens to be fine with the php / mysql specs. Committee wants me to migrate the demo to a specific and new hosting plan. New hosting company will not allow me admin access to the backend to make the updates myself, and told me blatantly that the update is 'not in the immediate plans'.

They know we're using a theme with the requirements that they've just said they're unwilling to fulfill. I can't think of another company that basically told me to shove off like that. The committee is wanting to know my progress, knowing that I've been having several issues with the new hosting company already (not described here). The theme comes from ThemeForest, and is a pretty popular one. Has anyone had problems with their hosting company like this? We can't even use the theme with the setup. I'm at a complete loss. It's not as if I'm asking for solar technology in an oil field, or is it?

  • I've been told in the past that they'll update soon without any dates, so that's normal I guess. Also hosting resellers (if they are a reseller) don't actually have the required access to upgrade software etc. You're probably better off with one that has up to date versions. Good luck.
    – Abu Nooh
    Aug 24, 2016 at 14:48
  • I think you did pretty well to find "a throw away hosting account" that had PHP 5.6+!
    – MrWhite
    Aug 24, 2016 at 20:36

1 Answer 1


I have been working for a hosting company and I must say, yes it is pretty normal for small and middle sized hosters and usually has good reasons. If you choose a cheap webspace plan, your site is running on a server that is shared among many customers. If the hosting provider would update PHP, it would normally affect all customers on that server. And PHP-updates are not 100% backwards-compatible. Therefore, when a hosting company updates PHP on a shared server, it is quite likely to break some of the customer sites. Therefore, lots of hosting companies run linux distributions with long-term-support that offer security updates for old PHP versions, even if PHP does not officially provide security updates anymore. For example, in Debian Wheezy, PHP 5.4 is currently still provided with security updates, even though PHP itself officially provides security updates only for 5.6 and newer.

That said, there are ways to install and run multiple php versions on one server. But this of course increases complexity of the whole setup drastically. It usually also means you cannot use easy automatic updates anymore but need to manually install security updates for each of the installed versions. Therefore, mostly only big hosting providers follow this approach and give you the possibility to switch between different PHP versions.

Another way to provide multiple PHP versions for the hosting company is of course to run different versions on different servers and put accounts on the server that fits the requirements of the customer.

To conclude: No, it is not unusual. When you decide for a webspace, you should check the php (and MySQL) versions that the hosting company provides. Also, some PHP settings and extensions might be important, like imagemagick for Typo3, which is not provided by all hosting companies.

Edit: If planning to run WordPress as the OP, check this site: https://wordpress.org/about/requirements/ It says clearly what to ask your hoster for.

  • 1
    Here here! I used to be a web host. It is important to maintain the stability of the server as well. If a new version of something comes out, even an update, it has to be thoroughly vetted before acceptance in a production environment. While most users update willy nilly, web hosts cannot do that. It is possible to move an account to an updated server once the web host knows that the new version is stable and safe. Kudos for the answer! Cheers!!
    – closetnoc
    Aug 24, 2016 at 16:03
  • @closetnoc: Yes, I totally agree. On the other hand, I would consider PHP 5.6 already stable at the time of writing. Currently, 14.5% of PHP servers run it according to this statistic (The company that I have been working for is mainly using 5.6 at the moment as well.) Aug 24, 2016 at 17:55
  • I am retired now, but back in the day, we did not take anyone's word for it. We used many hacker techniques and bad code to make sure the new release was okay. Generally, these days, for PHP, this would be the case. This includes MySQL and other mature apps too.
    – closetnoc
    Aug 24, 2016 at 18:37
  • Thanks all for the excellent feedback. All of these explanations will help me articulate what's going on, and what else needs to be done, namely, find another web host.
    – Torque2
    Aug 24, 2016 at 18:38

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